Okay, you may already be wondering, “Is this a joke?” or “is she being sarcastic?” given the above picture coupled with the title.
The answer is no(ish). Just keep reading.
Against my so-called “better judgment” I decided to read the book of Joshua. Regrettably, I had never really studied the book before. Sure, I knew and had read some of the stories within the book (like a professional cherry-picker). And like many parents, I had seen the Veggie Tales rendition with Larry the Cucumber as the valiant stuttering Joshua and the French Peas as the milkshake hurling guards of Jericho. So that made me as good a theologian as any. Or perhaps not-so-much.
Then I stumbled upon a podcast study done by Jen Wilkin on the book and decided, “ya sure, I’ll give it a go.”
Much to my surprise I was enamoured with the book and wondered what the heck took me so long to study it. Sure, it was troubling at times. Some parts made me cringe and required me to think through my beliefs about justice and grace and the goodness of God. It was a purposeful and beautiful wrestling match. But by His mercy I came out on the other side with a stronger sense of all those things.
However when it was all done, I was tempted as I normally am to return to the New Testament. It’s cozy for me there. Not because there are no strong words of conviction living among those wonderful books, but because I’m just used to those words. I read them all the time. You might say I’ve grown immune to their severity and seriousness. I say sadly.
However I still entertained the idea of reading the next book…Judges.
But why would I…a women who enjoys potting flowers and decorating and baking cookies want to study a book that encapsulates so much bad news?
I tabled the idea for a couple of days. Tried to talk myself out of it and return to the safety of being closer to the back of the Bible. However the Spirit must have been whispering ‘all Scripture inspired’ into my soul without my flesh noticing because I wasn’t buying my own reasoning to not do it.
So there I stood beginning another journey (one that I have yet to finish) through another warish, judgementy, Old Testament book that I knew even less about and avoided even more than the last (again, regrettably).
To my surprise it has been like a spring of fresh water to my dry and cracked soul. Like a sunbeam eluminating my inner self and revealing an even bigger God.
How is that even possible? I had most certainly bought the lie that there are some books of the Bible that are just not necessary for spiritual growth. Although I would have never taught it, I definitely internalized it for myself. And have suffered because of it. This broken book of my recorded spiritual heritage is a lamp unto my feet in a broken world as a broken sinner.
You see, I am Israel.
My forgetfulness is an epidemic in my life. I fail to recall how God has delivered and redeemed me. How His love has never ceased for me. And I too, seek other idols to fill voids I refuse to admit I have.
And I am Gideon. I too, faithlessly call upon God for signs and wonders over and over before I trust His will for my life. And then take the glory for myself anytime I do right in the eyes of others.
And I am Abimelech. I am so prone to the desire of heaping upon myself praise and renown for anything that I do well.
And I am Samson too. I don’t have his might, but I do have his rebelliousness and his obsession with himself. I have his wandering eyes that take him to all manner of sinfulness. I am him.
But this revelation is not the cool water to a dusty soul. This is just the doorstep to the glorious manor. I have to step through this mire to get to the other side. Because although these men are a disastrous bundle of misfits…God is gracious to use all of them for His own victorious and merciful end. And if that does not stir you in some way…check your pulse.
Miraculously these stories become ones of deep encouragement about God’s goodness. We see His unfaltering patience and mercy over and over again. I mean, how could a Holy God keep a covenant with these depraved people who only know how to do what is right in their own eyes. And why is fearful Gideon and prideful Samson recorded in the hall of faith in Hebrews? He is, because God used him mightily. God should receive the renown in the story of Gideon and Samson and everywhere else, because it’s clear these men don’t actually know what their doing.
We are to see and feel and experience their faults and then see how we are much like them. But this is where it gets even better. Because that bit of wonderfulness is just the foyer of the manor.
Walk in a little deeper and see the riches of His glory.
Because this is the most important take-away and the best news of all…
Jesus is the true and better Gideon and Abimelech and Samson. (To borrow Tim Keller’s language)
He is the fulfillment of our need for a Judge, a go-between us and the Father. He is the ultimate warrior against sin and death. And the supreme and final saviour of God’s people. He was the most crucial unlikely subject – born-out-of-wedlock, Nazareth dwelling, humble carpenter who fell on His knee’s and asked that the cup be passed from Him, yet rose to do His work. He is the true and better prophet who obeyed His good Father and took on all the sins of everyone on earth and everyone yet to be.
Mightier then the strongest army is He; yet humble enough to receive affliction without seeking vengeance.
He never gave into sin. Not once. He is the best news after a book of nothing but bad.
And how can we feel the weight of this kind of glory without opening tough pages and reading?
I am a flower-loving, interior decorating, sugar cookie baking, New Testament dwelling woman who desperately needs the book of Judges. And you probably need it too. There are no “blue” books of the Bible, nor “pink” books of the Bible. If you are a Christian human-being, every last one of them is profitable for teaching you and me important things.
And do not believe any lie that says different.
Both men and women need to read about Deborah’s wisdom and courage and her unwavering faithfulness to the Lord in how she judged. She is a picture of what is to come in the person of Christ. These are tales for both genders to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Is your soul in need of some refreshing? Perhaps, you need something unexpected to be the cooling and cleansing agent. Perhaps the book of Joshua or Judges or Leviticus or Obadiah is required. What book have you been avoiding?
The Holy Spirit has inspired every Word.
Trust Him by cracking it wide open. Then watch as His mercy pours out living, quenching, wonderful waters.